Gail Samuelson photographs ordinary and more challenging events in her life: the landscape through which she walks her dog each day (Beaver Dam, Sherborn, MA); her parents struggle with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease (Downhill all the Way); her breast surgery (My New Bra), her 26-year-old daughter’s return home (Jessie); photographs taken from trains while traveling to visit her elderly aunt in NYC (Train shots); and several on-going series of self-portraits.
Samuelson's most recent self-portrait series, All Dressed Up, has been exhibited in several galleries in 2013: the Kiernan Gallery in Lexington, VA, where she received Juror’s Choice award and was featured on their gallery blog; the PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, VT; the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA; and most recently, at the Cambridge Art Association’s Red Biennial competetion, where she received Honorable mention for her self-portrait, My father Sinclair.
In addition to her art work, Samuelson owns a portrait and event photography business in Sherborn, MA. She studied photography with Stephen Tourlentes, Frank Gohlke, and David Hilliard at workshops at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, MA, the New England School of Photography, the Art Institute of Boston, and at Photography Atelier at Lesley University and at the Griffin Museum of Photography. She also has an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.
Keep It for Luck
These clothes, hats, handbags, and jewelry belonged to my mother and my aunt Florence. While most of the objects are perfect after a half a century in storage, the armpit of my mother’s silk blouse gives way, as I arrange it before the camera.
Although my mother and her sister-in-law were both smart and educated, they were also superstitious. They saved objects- wishbones, charms, and talismans- to bring good luck or ward off the evil eye. For example, Florence’s bridal handkerchief reminded her of her good fortune to marry Ben, the sweetest man ever.
My mother also saved many intimate garments- bras, garters, and nightgowns- from when she was just married and not yet a mother. Who would have known she was so sexy?
Beaver Dam, Sherborn, MA:
The beavers came to Rocky Narrows two years ago and plugged up Sewall Brook. The beavers don’t care that Rocky Narrows is the first and premier property of the Trustees of Reservations; don’t care that their dam has made a muddy mess of the trails leading to King Phillip’s Overlook, a magnificent view of the Charles River named for the Wampanoag Indian chief who unsuccessfully confronted the English colonists; and don’t care that the brook they dammed was named for Samuel Sewall, the infamous Salem witch trial judge. The beavers are there to chew down trees and saplings, make their dam, and flood the place.
The resulting landscape is surprising with its dying trees and bright green mud. A swamp quickly replaced the forest, followed by wood ducks, red-winged blackbirds, and mosquitos. This place smells more like the underside of a rotting log than the sweet scent of pine trees. The quiet is broken by the sounds of startled ducks and woodpeckers rummaging for food. Neither the place nor my photographs are conventionally pretty. But this is my place, which I pass each day when I walk my dog.
Reflections, Sherborn, MA:
Here, the dammed brook has become a reflecting pond. The world is upside down, and the plane of the image is distinct from that of the photograph. The water is the color of the sky—deep, deep blue on a sunny day and grey when it is cloudy. Likewise the flora transforms from green and brown to black and white. Gravity appears lost, as the wind brushes the water, bending each tree trunk.